Review: I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

Published February 3, 2015 · Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

If seventeen-year-old Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom—that is, until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she’s ever worked for is on the line.

Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell had a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.

Rating: ★★★★

The setting of I’ll Meet You There couldn’t be any more different from my life. Living in a town so small it could barely be called one is worlds apart from life in a metropolitan city and truth be told, I was a little concerned about whether I could picture everything well in my head. I discovered later it had all been needless worrying because Heather Demetrios flawlessly transported me to the hot and lazy town of Creek View.

Despite reading numerous reviews lauding I’ll Meet You There, I was still surprised by how much I had enjoyed it. Somehow, Skylar and Josh’s story was so full of life and wonder despite the sleepy and seemingly lifeless setting; not what I had expected.

“It was like the whole town was swimming in failure, but no one realized they were drowning.”
– p17

Continue reading “Review: I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios”

ARC Review: The Secret Sky: A Novel of Forbidden Love in Afghanistan by Atia Abawi

The Secret SkyThe Secret Sky: A Novel of Forbidden Love in Afghanistan
by Atia Abawi
Publication date: 2 September, 2014
Philomel, ARC, 300 pages
Source: Publisher

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A novel of love during a time of war by NBC’s Afghanistan correspondent.

Set in present-day Afghanistan, this is the story of two teenagers, one Pashtun and one Hazara, who must fight against their culture, their tradition, their families, and the Taliban to stay together. Told in three rotating perspectives—the two teens and another boy in the village who turns them in to the local Taliban—this novel depicts both the violent realities of living in Afghanistan, as well as the beauty of the land and the cultures there. And it shows that love can bloom in even the darkest of places.

This is an absolute must read not just for teens but for anyone who has lived during the time of America’s War in Afghanistan.

Thank you Carynn Tey from Penguin Books Singapore for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ★★★★

There are two ways people react to injustice: sadness and anger. I fall into the latter category and hence, reading The Secret Sky had been a very enraging experience. Like the saying goes, “don’t judge a book by its cover”, and this novel is no exception. The Secret Sky was not a love story; it was a tale of truth, no matter how horrendous and painful. Most of us live lives that are relatively uncomplicated and if you have internet access to be reading this right now, you can’t be doing that badly. Especially compared to people like Fatimah and Samiullah, the protagonists of this novel. Continue reading “ARC Review: The Secret Sky: A Novel of Forbidden Love in Afghanistan by Atia Abawi”

Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

Prisoner of Night and FogPrisoner of Night and Fog
by Anne Blankman
Prisoner of Night and Fog #1
Publication Date: 22 April 2014
Balzer + Bray, Hardcover, 401 pages
Source: Library

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In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her “uncle” Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler. And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can’t stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can’t help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she’s been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she’s always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she’s ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.

Rating: ★★★★½

Gorgeous, haunting and utterly vivid, Prisoner of Night and Fog was definitely an amazing read and one of my favorite books so far this year. I had pretty high expectations for it, especially since there were numerous reviews dousing it in praise and love. This novel did live up to my expectancy, however, it felt as if a certain exciting aspect was lacking.

Starting off with the protagonist, Gretchen Müller; she was horrifyingly brainwashed by Hitler at the beginning. It was understandable because after her father had died, she was left with an ignorant mother and a brother who was the spawn of Satan (I’m not kidding). Hitler was the only one who showered her with attention and the only one who “appreciated” her. Expectedly, she would be overly eager to please him and follow his wishes. Simply put, Gretchen just wasn’t a strong-minded heroine at first.

Fret not though, because in comes Daniel, a passionate journalist who believed strongly in honesty and justice and who was also almost the complete opposite of Gretchen. I would say he had been the catalyst in Gretchen’s growth in character and the reason she opened her eyes and started to question the values she had been brought up with (e.g. seeing Jews as inferior, not to defy those with authority over her).

While Gretchen was like a spark slowly igniting into flames, having to grow from a meek good girl to a braver, more intelligent, confident and proactive young woman, Daniel was like a blazing bonfire throughout the book. I loved his confidence and sureness of his faith and beliefs. And as in most cases, this guy who’s so assertive in his actions is undeniably hot. I also found him a perfect match for Gretchen, because his courage  and directness was what brought out the potential in her.

The romance in Prisoner of Night and Fog was quite obviously well-developed, believable and absolutely wonderful, from what I’ve mentioned above. Blankman successfully showed how Gretchen and Daniel’s relationship progressed from extreme distrust to a shaky friendship with a gradually intensifying attraction and finally to acceptance that they were meant for each other and needed to live happily ever after.

Okay, that last part was exaggerated due to my wishful thinking and aggressive shipping tendencies. Nonetheless, the romance was tender, sweet and hopeful in a soon-to-be hopeless Germany.

As for the story, it was generally well plotted but slow; just interesting enough not to be dull. Although there were many mysteries to unravel, I somehow didn’t feel to urgency to discover the truth behind them. Thankfully though, the story ended with a BANG. Nerve-wrecking and exciting, the conclusion nearly gave me an anxiety attack from worrying about what might happen to Gretchen and Daniel. Figuratively, of course. We all know, villains who are also Nazis are downright scary and despite being set in 1930, when Germany had yet to be completely dominated by Hitler and the Nazi Party, it’s pretty obvious they could still do considerable damage. And by considerable damage, I meant death or dismemberment.

Yes, violence and tragedy is inevitable (especially as the trilogy continues) but I like my ships in a happy bubble. At least, at the end of each book. Occasionally.

All in all, Prisoner of Night and Fog was a beautiful story and a great start to the series (trilogy? Duology? I don’t know). Regardless of the slightly off pacing, I would vigorously recommend this book to everyone, especially those looking for a good book revolving around Nazi Germany. Although this first book is set before the Holocaust, the following book would be set during it and I can’t wait to get my hands on it! Yep, even if it means witnessing the beloved characters suffer.